Leon Haslam says he is good shape for the remainder of the World Superbike weekend after setting the third fastest time of the day at Phillip Island on race rubber.
Haslam was in scintillating form during free practice around the Melbourne circuit, topping the timesheets by more than half a second aboard the Suzuki Alstare before slipping to third during provisional qualifying.
Even so, Haslam revealed his time, which was just two tenths of a second slower than pace setter Carlos Checa, was achieved on race tyres having chosen to avoid the softer rubber and spend the session focusing on race set-up.
With that in mind, Haslam, who is yet to win a World Superbike race, is feeling good about his chances come Sunday, even if he – like many of his rivals – are concerned about the prospect of rain in the races.
“I am really happy with today because we are well on the way to finding a good set-up for the race on Sunday,” he said. “We tried all three different tyres and now we have good ideas about which one we will use -depending on the conditions. I didn't even use a soft tyre this afternoon and my fastest lap was done on ordinary race rubber.
“The differing temperatures have given us different challenges, but I'm pretty confident about the bike's set-up, unless of course it rains and then we'll all be in trouble. The track felt a bit slippery and greasy today, because of the hotter temperatures, and the wind was a bit of a problem in turns one and two and sector four, but it was the same for everybody and we just had to cope with it.
“No problems really today, except that I heard from home this morning that my 19 year-old dog had died. He's had a good, long life, but he will be missed.”
Team-mate Sylvain Guintoli also enjoyed a positive day, setting the eighth fastest time to emerge as the best placed World Superbike rookie.
“We've made a good step forward today. We tried many different settings and also did a lot of work on trying to improve the tyre life and, like Leon, I did my best lap on normal race rubber.
“At the moment, I am struggling a bit finding problems with the bike but everything is going very well. That's also down to the hard work put in by the whole team and we are feeling good about our prospects on Sunday. First aim tomorrow morning is getting into Superpole. After that, we'll see what happens.”